Rambling Economic Crankiness

It is interesting to me how we here in the USA are suddenly faced with “tough times” and so many people are so panic-stricken that they are voting for tea party witches and for any other person who comes along who appears to be on the “outside”.

It occurs to me that there’s no real outside here.  We’re all on the inside of this crisis.  We’ve all voted for the people who have made the rules to put us into this situation.  Many, many of us have taken out loans and refused to pay them back.  Many of us have lost jobs as a result of all the bad debt, which resulted in the bad economy, which resulted in the bad job market, and which created a continuation of the cycle.

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So who’s to blame?  Who cares at this point?  Who’s going to bring us out of it is the better question.  Who is going to create enough jobs to keep all these young people employed?  Who is going to provide an economy robust enough to keep the young people from turning to angry tea parties or militant groups?  That’s the problem that we face now, where are the jobs?

If we need jobs, and they can’t all be high paying, high tech jobs, then where is the relief for the average Joe?  Where are the jobs that would sustain a middle-class family, create sufficient income for home ownership, pay for benefits, pay for retirement,  pay for taxes?  Where is all this investment capital that the bailout money was supposed to represent?  Where are the new factories?  Where are the new trades?  Where are the jobs?

I don’t hear answers from Democrats, I don’t hear answers from Republicans, and all I hear from Tea Partiers is a bunch of angry BS.  Nobody has any answers and none of them want to work together for the good of “We the People”.  Perhaps Democracy has run its course?

I ask you all, where are the jobs and where is the investment? I don’t see it, do any of you?  All I see is trillions of dollars going to rich bankers who are hoarding it, that’s not the bill of goods I bought a couple years ago.  I was told it was going to “trickle down” that if the banks failed we all failed.  Well, they were right about one thing, now that the rich are fat and happy again, we all didn’t fail, only the middle and lower classes are failing, the rich have been well taken care of.

Republicans think that the rich deserve continuations of the tax breaks.  They assert that this is a good idea because the rich create the jobs.  What the leave out of their arguments is that the rich only create jobs when they need someone else to do the work for them and can afford to pay for it.  Otherwise, they would have to do the work themselves and pay for people to do other things that they no longer have time for; and since they don’t have time to do those things, they probably get charged more for those services so those service providers get richer, hire more people, and there’s a shift in the money downward anyway.

You see, the Republican logic is flawed.  Of course the Democrats aren’t much better.  Give us all your money they say and we’ll spend it better than you; we make better decisions than you do.  I don’t think so.  The Tea Partiers are too busy to even think about solutions because they’re out yelling at people at Town Hall meetings pissed off about the falling stock market taking a chunk out of their golf money.

We have less than we did before, but I suspect that what many of us have now is pretty close to exactly what we had before the crisis, a place to live, a job, a car, bills, family, blessings and troubles.  The difference is that we aren’t spending forward like we used to do on credit, we’re easing back and living on what we have in pocket.  That’s a shift, that shift is a little painful, like a fat, spoiled child who’s hand has been smacked reaching into the cookie jar.

Living within my means and not borrowing against future earnings is a cold glass of water in the face.  It means doing without for the first time in my adult life, it means that my anticipation of a constant outpouring of wealth is no longer secure, it means that the party is subdued, if not over.  I admit it, I was spoiled, and I liked it.  Coming back to earth after the Club Med life I was living is hard, but it was also inevitable.

Where do we go as a nation from here?  I think we’ll all live within our means, save more, earn less, spend less, and probably live better than we did before.  Less stress of debt, less stress of obtaining every crap knick-knack the Chinese produce, or every expensive bobble that a jeweler can create.

Maybe we will live a simpler life and enjoy it a lot more.  As I recall, nobody was very happy before the crash, everyone had lots of stuff, but everyone was so stressed about keeping what we had, storing what we had too much of, and obtaining what we didn’t have, to even enjoy our incredible wealth.  Maybe this crisis will have matured all us spoiled kids in the end, I certainly hope so.  Maybe the answer to who will lead us out of the crisis is simply staring us all in the mirror.

General Crankiness

I would think that some of the politicians would finally be “getting it” about the public’s disdain for their antics and lack of ability to make decisions about important issues.

Enter the Tea Party and its line-up of oddballs including witches and eye-doctors, perhaps there’s even a witch doctor among them.  What’s amazing to me about all of that is these people, in spite of their off-centeredness, are getting past Republican candidates!?!  What the hell?  And the Republicans are trying to cast our problems as Democratic problems, that seems to me to be a rather hollow argument as Democrats are not the ones being usurped in the primaries.  It remains to be seen if places like Delaware are so tired of the status quo that even a witch will do.

While I agree that a witch would be a change of pace, unless she’s “Glenda” I’d pass on voting for her.

Republicans voted down the attempt to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” which is interesting.  I understand the dilemma, but it’s also interesting that they would want to alienate their Log Cabin Republican brothers.  One of the Republicans, Susan something or other, even stood up before the Senate and said that even though she agrees it should be repealed, she would not vote for it now because it would give the Democrats a victory before the election.  REALLY?  So blatant a display of partisanship is pretty impressive, the honesty is…well…I can’t say it’s refreshing because it’s honest to say what she said, but it’s the height of hypocrisy in America to say that continuing a discriminatory practice is OK if it’s going to hurt the opposition party, even if you disagree with the discrimination.  REALLY?

A Lebanese man got caught in a sting planting what he thought was a bomb at a bar outside Wrigley Field in Chicago.  Probably a “moderate” Muslim…nothing to worry about folks, nothing to see here.  After all, if he was a “radical” Muslim, he would have planted a real bomb.

California’s Legislature is unable to complete a budget in the face of the deficit.  And life goes on here in California in spite of it.  State workers are laid off on most Fridays and I don’t notice anyone complaining about lack of the service; in fact, I notice a lot more complaints about state workers when people actually have to interact with them than when there’s a “closed for furloughs” sign on their office door.  But maybe I don’t run in the right circles.

So I hear that some idiotic organization has determined that the recession ended in 2009…well, blow me down, I should have been seeking a raise and running up my credit cards in giddy anticipation of the trickle down economics…but wait, the trillions in bailout money that went to the top of the food chain doesn’t seem to be trickling down so far, not sure why.  Perhaps it’s because the rich people are investing it and refusing to loan it the way that was intended.  Ah, trickle down poverty is all around, perhaps the agency who pronounced the end of the recession is run by bankers.

Had to laugh at the article in the 9/20/10 Time magazine that is predicting the end of the educational decay in this country due to the Race to the Top funding.  I happen to believe that this is not the case.  Race to the Top would have to completely dictate the form and format of teacher union contracts for Race to the Top to work out the way they want.  The way it is being handed out, it’s all going to be spent BEFORE unions agree to any revisions in their contracts.  This means that it’s going to be spent before any contracts are even amended.  It’s just another grandstanding attempt – as well-intended as it may be – to change American public education into a one-size-fits-all picture of perfection.  Unions must be crushed and teacher tenure must be eliminated or nothing is ever going to change.  And I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but Race to the Top is all going to be spent on doing more of the same with the same union contracts.  OH, they will find one or two schools that do the right thing with the money, but I predict that overall, the results will be staggering in their mediocrity, and nauseating in the proportion of impact to dollars spent.

Keep Your Cranky Nose Clean – Bleed for the Right Thing

I’m cranky because I observed yet another young man today with one of those large metal horseshoe-shaped contraptions hanging from his ignorant pierced nose today.  It has two little ball bearings on the ends of the horseshoe giving it the appearance of a snotty-nosed 2 year old – quite off-putting I must say.  I assert that these young people who are inflicting this pain on themselves are hearing God’s directive to give up personal comfort, but it is being warped by selfishness and narcissism.

I have trouble imagining the woman – or man – that finds something attractive in a man (or woman) wearing a horseshoe in the nose, which undoubdebtly drips with snot whenever he has a cold – drip – drip – drip; and which must have threads clogged with filthy bacterial snot inside the little ball bearings when he is in between colds.

I find this unimaginably hygienically unattractive because as a kid I was told to wipe your nose if I had something unattractive hanging from it. I was told to “keep your nose clean” whenever an adult wanted me to be careful about how I conducted myself in public.  Noses were connected to cleanliness and today’s penchant among some young people for sticking pieces of chromed re-bar through them is perplexing and offensive to me at a gut-level.

These nasal snot channels, these booger-coated nose-shoes, these ridiculous statements of – well – whatever they are stating, are beyond my comprehension and I want to take a needle-nose pliers and remove them in a most unfriendly manner.  The only equivalent in the natural world is a ring in the nose of a bull, and most bulls I am aware of are pissed off about it and would rather impale a man on their horns than tolerate someone who would impose that level of physical abuse on them.  Why then are young people piercing their beautiful, God-given bodies?

There is a line in a popular song that goes, “You bleed just to know you’re alive”.  I guess that’s the basic reason that people are acting this way.  They want to know they are alive.  But I assert that if these young people were starving in Africa they would know what is important about being alive, if they knew what it means to struggle to remain alive they would make different choices.  But they don’t – they’re living in the land of plenty, blessed beyond all reason with food and shelter and wealth only dreamed of in many places in the world.

So perhaps they need to remove the horseshoes from their noses and pull their heads from that dark space between their legs and live life to the fullest by loving their brothers and sisters in giving and service.  If they want to bleed, then get some blisters and splinters building homes for the homeless, go hungry for a week because they’ve given all their money for groceries for the homeless, get sore arms stirring spaghetti for the hungry, or bloody hangnails sewing clothing for needy. If they want to feel alive by sacrificing their own comfort, BLESS THEM, but why are they only doing these things for self-aggrandizement?

Why do these young people look inside themselves for that bleeding affirmation of life?  I assert that it’s because they think they are their own God, that nothing outside themselves is powerful, and they are willing to bleed to try to find meaning.  The sad thing is that the right impulse is misdirected, the answer is not to bleed for oneself, it is to bleed for your neighbor, your friend, your family.

The urge to sacrifice self can lead to huge change and good; and in fact, the teaching of God is to love one another, this is the only original commandment that Jesus gave as far as I know.

The primary purpose of life is NOT to find love for oneself through adornment, piercings, tattoos, drugs-sex-rock and roll.  Piercing is the right impulse misdirected and warped into self promotion.

Wow those nose-horseshoes really make me cranky.